We have a group of 8, 4 adults and 4 teens, looking to stay in a small town outside of Paris for 2 nights at the beginning of November. We will be heading there from CDG then heading to Paris afterwards. We are hoping for a relaxing country house that has easy access by foot to the town for meals because we don’t want to cook. I have found lots of Air B&Bs that look great at first but then prove to be difficult to get to by public transportation. We are willing to do 2-3 hours by train, but since it’s our 1st time in France and we will be carting luggage I’m hoping to not do too many transfers. Does anyone have any suggestions of towns that may fit the bill? Also, suggestions of places to look for rental homes with character (besides AirBnB and VRBO) would be greatly appreciated.
Veronica the sticking point is the from CDG part. A couple of times I've flown into CDG with the intention of going directly to some small town for 3 or 4 nights without passing through Paris in transit. In theory you can do it. If you land at the right time, you can get to Burgundy or the Loire etc without too much hassle. But in practice I've never been able to make that happen without first going into Paris and then getting a train out of Paris.
Maybe I'm not addressing your question? In any case, know that you will likely need to go into Paris from CDG before heading to your quiet town for a relaxed time getting over jet lag. Paris is the transit hub, CDG is a short spur. There is the TGV station at CDG but it is A) a bit infrequent in the middle of the day, B) often goes to larger cities or somewhat remote transfer stations, C) can make you wait 3 or 4 hours for a train that connects to where you want to go.
If you do transfer through Paris to your smaller place, it is easiest and least stressful to take a taxi from CDG to the Paris train station you'll depart from. Given flight delays, customs, etc, you won't know exactly which train you'll make. What I do is make a list of departure times and departure stations, and then when we are near the front of the CDG taxi I check traffic on google maps. Then I pick the station with the most suitable train based on that info. Then buy ticket online in the cab.
Hank - Thank you so much, that is very helpful. I was thinking that taking a taxi to Paris may be the easiest way to do it. I just looked at some trains to Amboise and that seem doable, but I would love to have more than one option! Merci beau coup for thé suggestion!!
Veronica we did the exact trip from CDG to Amboise in August, taxi to Gare Montparnasse (Austerlitz was the other possibility but timing was wrong). It was just fine, didn't take too very long and a really pleasant town awaits.
I'm definitely interested in other places as well, and looking forward to hearing the responses you get. I'm much prefer spending the first couple of nights in Europe somewhere less intense until we are on the sleep schedule and in the swing.
Don't overlook Burgundy. If the timing is right you can get there direct from CDG. If not it's more of a PITA than it might seem being so close.
The TGV does go north quite frequently from CDG. I wonder if it's possible to take it one or two stops and then easily get to Reims or somewhere else in the Champagne area? That might be cool :)
The closest charming town to CDG is Senlis which would be delightful and you could take cabs. with 8 you are too many for even a van cab so you are talking about booking two cabs well ahead. The upper limit for airport cabs is 7.
Thank you for all the tips, everyone. I had looked at Senlis, but I haven’t been able to find any houses on Airbnb or VRBO there. I am finding that problem in a lot of towns, either no homes or none with the “feel” I’m hoping for. I’m being a bit picky!
The tip on taking the train to Tours is very helpful. This is our 1st trip to Europe as adults, planning isn’t quite as easy as our past island vacations 😂
we had the identical experience in Auray in Brittany -- no cabs at the train station, no one willing to come. We walked a couple of miles to the hotel over a very confusing route that had us worried we were totally failing -- dragging our luggage.
Does anyone have any thoughts on Blois or Sancerre as places to stay? Also, does anyone have a good link for where to find a map of all the rail stops online? I found a few but they don’t seem to correspond to the correct names of the stops.
We stayed at Blois to visit some chateaux several years ago and loved it. Lodging was cheap.
However, Blois is on the opposite side of Paris from CDG. Still, you could get there via rail.
FYI: Always reserve your taxi in advance when arriving in a small city or a town. Look online to see who serves the area you want and contact them. That's what locals do and why you can't get a taxi at the last minute.
Even in my city of almost 300,000 we have to reserve in advance when arriving on the train from Paris.
This site might help: https://direkt.bahn.guru/
It shows you all the places that have direct service from a single train station, including all of Paris' and CDG. It doesn't really give detail beyond that (departure times, frequency) but it does help visualize the options. Combined with an Airbnb search it could be useful.
Thank you historiangifford, that site really is helpful!
I'm going to push back a little on the walk to Amboise from the station onerous. My family did it three round trip this past August, twice with our bag. No big deal, very pretty 10 minute walk to our Airbnb in Amboise. We liked the walk, even stopped in at the non-touristy butcher and baker that you pass along the way (never found the candlestick maker. :)
Caveats that our Airbnb was right at the castle, so in the closer part of Amboise. And we are all fit and walk a lot for pleasure.
Regarding Blois, we've never stayed, but have day tripped twice. It's a nice small city, and we would stay there no problem. I'd call it about equal to Amboise depending on what you want, or which Chateaux you prefer (Amboise and Chenonceau or Blois and Chambord - also basically a toss up IMO).
OP have you considered booking two AirBNB's close by one another? We've done this in the US with larger groups and it works fine. One generally serves as the gatherings house with more seats and a bigger table, the other more of a sleeping place. Might make your planning a lot easier 😁
Oh I can certainly see that as being unpleasant Lisalu! We all had backpacks 13lbs or under, absolutely gorgeous weather, and a place about as close as you can get in Ambois proper.
Three or four blocks of ordinary suburban street, a bridge over a pretty part of the Loire, three or four blocks across the island, a longer bridge across a prettier part of the Loire, three or four blocks under the ramparts of a gorgeous castle, home.
Boy if I could walk it again right now I'd go get my shoes on :-)
Two apps that I found very helpful on our September ‘22 trip to France were Rome2Rio for travel between cities, and BonjourRATP for Paris travels. We used Rome2Rio for train and bus info between cities…especially helpful when trains were cancelled at the last minute (happened 4 times for us!).
Once in Paris, the BonjourRATP app was great for best bus routes across town, and each stop was listed, so we knew we’d be seeing sights along the way from A to B, and even chose specific bus routes to maximize what we saw. For this short, 2 night trip we preferred bus trips to the Metro (easier on knees, and more to see), but the app shows many options for traveling around Paris. Super helpful. We bought 10 tickets at the train station when we arrived, and easily hopped on the buses. If we were staying longer, we would have gotten a Navigo pass, just FYI.
Have a great trip!
Thank you everyone for all the information. We ended up splurging a bit and rented the castle we saw on Airbnb in Moret-sur-loing. The town looks like it has enough for us to do plus it’s a quick train ride from Paris and to Fontainebleau.
We are supposed to get personal liability insurance for the rental. Our insurance company says that’s covered under our homeowners policy but the Airbnb owner is not excepting that. If anyone has a tip on an inexpensive company to get that through let me know. Thanks again for all your help!!